Timeline of Cardinal George Pell’s career and accusations
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court on Tuesday dismissed Cardinal George Pell’s convictions on charges he molested two choirboys in a cathedral more than two decades ago.
Some events in Pell’s career and the criminal case:
July 16, 1996: Auxiliary Bishop George Pell is appointed archbishop of Melbourne. A former choirboy later testified Pell molested him and a friend that December inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
March 26, 2001: Pell becomes archbishop of Sydney.
Oct. 21, 2003: Pope John Paul II makes Pell a cardinal.
Feb. 25, 2014: Pope Francis appoints Pell to the powerful position of Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
April 8, 2014: One of the choirboys dies of a heroin overdose at age 31 without alleging the crime and having told his mother he had not been abused.
Aug. 5, 2014: Victoria state police establish a task force to investigate how religious and other nongovernment organizations handled abuse accusations.
June 18, 2015: The surviving choirboy gives his first statement to detectives outlining criminal allegations against Pell.
Dec. 23, 2015: The task force publicly appeals for information relating to allegations of sexual offenses while Pell was Melbourne archbishop.
March 1, 2016: Pell begins testifying by video link from Rome to the Australian child abuse inquiry. Pell was critical of how the church had dealt with pedophile clerics in the past but denied he had been aware of the extent of the problem.
Oct. 19, 2016: Detectives go to Rome and question Pell. Pell hears details of the choirboy’s allegations for the first time.
June 29, 2017: Police charge Pell with multiple counts of historical sexual assault offenses, making him the most senior cleric to be charged in the church’s abuse crisis. Pell denied the accusations and took a leave of absence to return to Australia to defend himself.
July 26, 2017: Pell makes his first court appearance on charges that he sexually abused multiple children in Victoria state decades earlier. Details of the allegations were not made public. Pell vows to fight the allegations.
May 1, 2018: A magistrate commits Pell to stand trial. He pleads not guilty to all charges.
May 2, 2018: A judge separates the charges into two trials, the first dating to his tenure as Melbourne archbishop and the other when he was a young priest in Ballarat in the 1970s.
Dec. 11, 2018: Jury unanimously convicts Pell on all charges in the Melbourne case.
Feb. 26, 2019: Suppression order forbidding publication of any details about the trial is lifted. Prosecutors abandon trial on the Ballarat charges.
March 13, 2019: Judge announces Pell is sentenced to six years in prison on five sex abuse convictions and must serve three years and eight months before he is eligible for parole.
Aug. 21, 2019: Victoria state Court of Appeal rules 2-1 to uphold the convictions.
April 7, 2020: High Court’s seven judges unanimously agree to dismiss all convictions and Pell is released from prison.